Auburn faculty members honored with endowed professorships

Published: Nov 03, 2015
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Auburn University and the Auburn University Foundation honored five faculty members with newly endowed professorships, as well as the donors whose philanthropic gifts made them possible, at a recent awards ceremony.

Honorees included Scott Kramer of the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, recipient of the Atlanta Auburn Building Science Alumni Committee Endowed Professorship; Justin Benefield of the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, recipient of the Walker Reynolds Bickerstaff Endowed Professorship; Joseph Majdalani of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, recipient of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council Endowed Professorship; Pradeep Lall of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, recipient of the John and Anne MacFarlane Endowed Professorship; and Baker Ayoun of the College of Human Sciences, recipient of the June M. Henton Endowed Professorship.

"These recipients are recognized for their roles in preparing Auburn students for the future and, in doing so, enhancing Auburn's intellectual and innovative capital," Timothy Boosinger, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said. "They have demonstrated uncommon distinction and devotion to the education of our students and to the advancement of Auburn University's reputation as an institution of excellence."

The recognition ceremony was the fifth such event honoring faculty receiving professorships created through Auburn's Endowed Professorship Campaign. The campaign, which sought to create 80 new endowed professorships during a 12-month period beginning in October 2008, resulted in 90 new professorships and an increase of more than $31.4 million in the university's endowment.

"These faculty members and the donors who have invested in these professorships represent the very best of Auburn University," said Jane DiFolco Parker, Auburn's vice president for development and president of the Auburn University Foundation. "As committed members of the Auburn Family, the donors of these professorships recognize the positive impact their philanthropic investment in our faculty has on our state, the nation and the world."

Once established, an endowment is held permanently and is managed and invested by the Auburn University Foundation. Its principal continues to grow and produce income in perpetuity for the purpose designated by the donor. Faculty support in the form of endowed professorships and chairs enables Auburn to attract and retain the most outstanding faculty members. Endowments in this area, which include professorships, distinguished professorships, eminent scholars, and presidential chairs, as well as center or institute directorships and deanships, can fund all or a portion of a faculty member's salary, benefits, research support or other expenses related to his or her position. These endowed positions are differentiated by their minimum endowment funding levels and purposes.

Faculty support is one of four philanthropic priorities of Because This is Auburn — A Campaign for Auburn University. This historic $1 billion fundraising effort will create thousands of new scholarships for students, endow more than a hundred new chairs and professorships for educators and researchers, develop programs allowing the Auburn Family to connect with people everywhere and build new facilities and reimagine existing campus facilities.

For more information about establishing an endowed faculty position, contact the Office of University and Regional Development at (334) 844-2100 or endowments@auburn.edu, or go online to because.auburn.edu/endowments.

More about the endowed professorship honorees:

Baker Ayoun, Ph.D., June M. Henton Endowed Professor
Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management, College of Human Sciences
Ayoun joined the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Management faculty in 2007, and also serves as the graduate program officer for the department's Hotel and Restaurant Management Program. A Certified Hospitality Educator, he teaches courses and conducts research focused on hospitality industry strategies, international operations, and education, as well as cultural influences on hotel and hospitality management, technologies and education. The Capella Hotel Group, a top international hotel company established in 2002, endowed this professorship in honor of June M. Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences.

Justin D. Benefield, Ph.D., Walker Reynolds Bickerstaff Associate Professor
Department of Finance, Raymond J. Harbert College of Business
Auburn undergraduate and graduate students have benefitted from Benefield's expertise in finance and real estate since he joined the Department of Finance faculty in 2012. His classroom instruction and extensive scholarship focus on residential real estate brokerage, sustainable real estate and real estate investment trusts. As a member of the American Real Estate Society, he current serves as editor of its Journal of Housing Research. This endowed professorship was established through a gift from 1970 business administration graduate Walker "Rennie" Bickerstaff and his wife Cathy of Columbus, Georgia.

Scott W. Kramer, Ph.D., Atlanta Auburn Building Science Alumni Committee Professor
McWhorter School of Building Science, College of Architecture, Design and Construction
Kramer, who joined the McWhorter School of Building Science's faculty in 1992, teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in scheduling, project management and leadership. His leadership has been instrumental in providing students with opportunities to gain hands-on experience through international study-abroad and service-learning opportunities in Europe, China, Australia and South America. In honor of the Atlanta Auburn Building Science Alumni Committee's 20th anniversary, committee leaders made personal philanthropic contributions and hosted a variety of fundraising events to create this endowed professorship.

Pradeep Lall, Ph.D., MBA, John and Anne MacFarlane Endowed Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering
In addition to serving as a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Lall directs the college's National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics, as well as the Flexible Electronics Manufacturing Harsh Environments Node, a newly established collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense. His leadership of these research efforts, like his students, benefits from his experience in electronic reliability, safety, energy efficiency and survivability. He is a fellow of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineering and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and he serves as associate editor for two IEEE publications. This endowed professorship was established through a gift from Auburn graduates and Virginia residents John MacFarlane, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering in 1972 and 1973, respectively, and Anne MacFarlane, who earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education in 1973.

Joseph C. Majdalani, Ph.D., P.E., Auburn Alumni Engineering Council Endowed Professor and Chair
Department of Aerospace Engineering, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering
Majdalani joined Auburn's faculty in 2013 as chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering. For nearly 25 years, he has contributed to the fields of propulsion, thermofluids and applied mathematics through both his academic and research efforts. In addition to his extensive service to and numerous accolades from industry associations, he is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering and an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Members of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council endowed this professorship through their personal philanthropic support and matching gifts from their employers.

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